People often ask us “why Nepal?” The answer to this question lays in the mission of the Maya Gold Foundation, and Maya’s dream to end human sexual trafficking.
In the spring of 2014, as an eighth grader, Maya visited India with her family, and spent time at Binapini Ashram in West Bengal. She was in India with her family for two weeks, and was deeply moved by the people, the culture, and mostly the children. At Binapini, Maya learned about the plight of young girls who had been orphaned or abandoned and were at risk of being trafficked, and she was determined to return at some point.
Upon returning home, Maya began reading about orphanages in India, and read the book “Sold“. This proved to be transformative for her. “Sold” tells the story of a young girl, Lakshmi, that is trafficked from a remote village in Nepal to a brothel in India. In the book, Lakshmi is thirteen, only a year younger than Maya was at the time. The book explores in sometimes graphic detail the life of hardship and abuse that Lakshmi endures, and it moved Maya deeply. After reading “Sold” and doing other research, Maya decided to graduate high school early in her senior year and go to Nepal to work to reduce human sexual trafficking. In her freshman year of high school she met with the Guidance Department and planned a course of study that would make this possible. Maya took her own life before she could realize her dream.
That is “why Nepal”, and is the root of our mission and work in Nepal. When the Foundation was formed we initially offered financial support to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in Nepal. At the time we did not have the ability to do more. However, as we built our own capacity and Board, we realized we could do more by bringing teens from the USA to Nepal. The “Heart of Gold Adventures” trip grew out of the impulse to do more than offer financial support. After an exploratory trip in 2017 of Board members and their families, we developed a two week trip based on a curriculum that explores cultural competency, poverty, culture and customs, Buddhism and Hinduism, service learning, and the need for action. Each spring we bring approximately fifteen teens on the trip, and we work hand in hand with NGO’s whose mission it is to support survivors of trafficking and end sexual trafficking.